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February 3, 2016

Linda Blumberg wins prestigious award for health research impact

February 3, 2016

At the Urban Institute, we are celebrating the well-deserved recognition of our colleague, health policy researcher Linda Blumberg. On Monday, Linda received the AcademyHealth Health Services Research (HSR) Impact Award, which “recognizes compelling research that has had a significant impact on health policy and/or practice.” The award honored research cited by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts in the court’s decision in King v. Burwell, which dismissed a challenge to implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Alongside her colleagues, Institute fellow John Holahan and senior research associate Matt Buettgens, Linda used Urban’s Health Insurance Policy Simulation Model to produce a series of briefs estimating the effects of eliminating challenged tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. The RAND Corporation also received the HSR Impact Award this year for its work on the issues at the heart of King v. Burwell.

These research findings allowed the Justices to understand the disruption that could occur if they chose not to uphold central provisions of the ACA designed to make insurance available to Americans who lacked coverage. The team’s rigorous research answered the critical question facing the court and explained the impact of an alternative statutory reading in an accessible way. After citing the Urban and Rand analyses, the Chief Justice wrote that “it is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate in this manner.”

Linda’s research was cited prominently in the Court’s majority opinion; in the government’s brief; and in 18 amicus briefs, including the bipartisan economists’ amicus brief, which was signed by Linda and other renowned health economists. It’s not the first time the research of Urban’s Health Policy Center was cited at the Supreme Court: when the Supreme Court heard arguments on the ACA during the 2011-2012 term, Urban’s research was cited in the Supreme Court’s decision and amicus briefs on both sides.

Linda joins previous Urban recipients of the HSR Impact Award: Sharon Long (2012) and John Holahan (2007). This team represents the scholarship and commitment that is the Urban Institute. All my colleagues and I are deeply proud of their contributions.

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